Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Use of wood in buildings and bridges




Publication type:

General Technical Report (GTR)

Primary Station(s):

Forest Products Laboratory


Chapter 17 in FPL-GTR-282


In North America, most housing and commercial structures built prior to the 20th century used wood as the major structural material. The abundant wood resource formed the basic structure for most houses, commercial buildings, bridges, and utility poles. Today, houses and many light commercial and industrial buildings are made using modern wood structural materials. Recently, there has been increased interest in using wood for various types of transportation structures, including highway bridges. In this chapter, the features of various types of building systems are described. Emphasis is placed on how these systems have adapted to the use of modern materials and techniques. For example, where floor, wall, and roof sheathing for light-frame construction were once commonly made from wood boards, sheathing is now commonly made from structural panel products, such as plywood and oriented strandboard (OSB). Engineered wood products are being used increasingly for transportation structures. A brief description of the uses of wood in railroad and highway bridges and other transportation structures is included.


Wacker, J.P. 2021. Chapter 17: Use of wood in buildings and bridges. In: Wood handbook—wood as an engineering material. General Technical Report FPL-GTR-282. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. 13 pp.

Publication Notes

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.